Again, “We adore God Who is love, Who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him.”(Pope Francis, 6/21/14)
There is a principle in Catholic moral theology that governs all moral decision making, which is to be followed when there is doubt whether a particular choice is good or evil, morally permissible or morally impermissible, according to God’s will or not according to God’s will. The preeminent Catholic moral theologian of the Twentieth Century, Rev. Bernard Haring, states it this way:
“The effort one is obliged to make, in order to acquire the needed moral certainty that a possible choice is morally permissible, is to be measured by the importance of the action itself and the consequences that can be reasonably anticipated.”
“Doubt can be concerned even with some moral principles. In the realm of revealed truth, many of the derived moral or subordinate moral principles are in some manner obscure to us” (THE LAW OF CHRIST, Imprimatur, 1960).
Now it has happened hundreds, if not thousands of times, over the nearly five decades I have been teaching on, directing retreats on, leading conferences on and giving lectures on the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, that after making a thorough presentation of the subject and painstakingly answering all related questions, e.g., What about the overturning of the tables in the Temple, what about Hitler, what about the Old Testament, etc., someone will stand up and say, “I don’t care what the Gospels say, I’m a Catholic (Lutheran, Anglican, Orthodox, etc.), and my Church says I can go to war and kill the enemy. And, that’s good enough for me. If my country goes to war and needs me, I’ll go.”
Exegesis, the length of a small book, would be required to completely untangle the interlocking degrees of untruths of such a statement. Beyond, “I am a Catholic (Lutheran, etc.),” everything else is ignorance raised to the level of an infallible dogma, which the Christian then can, and probably will, bet his or her temporal and eternal life on. Untold tens of millions (minimum estimation) of Catholics or other Christians live in this “holy” ignorance and live so almost never out of personal malice or by intentionally choosing evil. They live there primarily because of the gross misdeeds of malfeasance and misfeasance by bishops, priests, ministers and pastors, who intentionally refuse to communicate not only the truth about the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Nonviolent Way of Love, but also the truth about their own substitute for the teaching of Jesus, the Catholic (Christian) Just War Theory (CJWT).
The person mentioned about is in fact the prototypical Just War Christian. What he says is how the majority of everyday Christian just warists think across all longitudes and latitudes. Said another way, the Christian just warists in the pews have been intentionally misinformed, under-informed and non-informed about CJWT from the Christian just warists in the pulpits. What CJWT is and is not, how it is related to and exists within the rest of Christian moral theology, what its content is, and when, where and how it is to be applied in order to avoid being part of the evil of murder or mass murder, that is, the evil of the intentional unjust taking of a human life in utero or extra-utero, before and during a war is all kept out of explicit consciousness and therefore out of a conscience concern by those who are responsible for teaching it. If they exist in the consciousness of the average Christian just warists at all, they languish there as a foggy non-concern that in no way can undermine the moral absurdities within the statement, I’m a Catholic (Lutheran, Anglican, Orthodox, etc.) and my Church says I can go to war and kill the enemy. And, that’s good enough for me. If my country goes to war and needs me, I’ll go.”
Without the support of hierarchical, clerical, ministerial and pastoral calculated indifference to their own truth and to making it known to those to whom they have a responsibility to communicate it, at least 99% of the wars that Christians have participated in would have been boycotted en masse by just war Christians, as well as, by those following Jesus’ teaching of Nonviolent love of all always.
This reflection began with a statement of one of the cornerstones of CJWT, without which CJWT becomes a “holy” carte blanche for murder: “The effort one is obliged to make, in order to acquire the needed moral certainty that a possible choice is morally permissible, is to be measured by the importance of the action itself and the consequences that can be reasonably anticipated.” Christian moral theology and that dimension of it called CJWT provide the tools, the moral and pastoral wherewithal, by which to make that mandated effort. If the tools, the means, are withheld or only cursorily presented to the Christians in the pews by the Christians in the pulpits, then little to no effort to truthfully discern whether a Just War Christian can morally participate in a war can be made or even begun. The consequence will be that Christians at every latitude and longitude, of every race, color, gender and nationality, will throw themselves into the mass slaughter of other human beings that is war. They will do this believing they are following Jesus and have Jesus’ support, and believing also that they will receive the reward for their works of war and their faithfulness to Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven.
And, their witness and their Church’s witness to the world in answer to the question, “How does Jesus save?” is what?
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy (To be continued)